X-Wing Upgrade Guide- Cannons

X-wing is a game that has been around for a few years now. The number of ships, pilots and upgrades can become a little overwhelming for those that are new or infrequent players. So today we’re going to start going through all the different upgrade types and giving some quick points on how best to use them. For each we’re going to give the following information:

  • Ranking– We’re going to rank each card within an upgrade slot. This is an imperfect ranking as the usefulness of any card is mostly determined by how and where you use it. But it’s an easy number to grasp and can serve as a starting point when trying to pick your upgrades.
  • Combos– What are the best pilots, ships or upgrades to pair with this card. When we look at upgrades that can only be equipped to a limited number of ships we may skip this section.
  • Notes- A few comments on the effectiveness and ways to get the most out of this upgrade.

Other Guides

We’re continuing our alphabetical journey through the available upgrades. Today, sadly, “C” is not for Cookie. But it is for Cannon which is still cool.

Ships with a Cannon Slot


  • B-Wing
  • YT-2400


  • Alpha Class Starwing (with title)
  • Firespray
  • Lambda Shuttle
  • TIE Defender


  • Aggressor
  • M-3A (with title)
  • YV-666

Ranked List

  1. Heavy Laser Cannon
  2. Tractor Beam
  3. Ion Cannon
  4. Mangler Cannon
  5. Autoblaster
  6. Flechette Cannon

Autoblaster (B-Wing/IG-2000 Expansions)

Cost: 5 points

Attack: 3, Range 1

Your Hit results cannot be canceled by defense dice. The defender may cancel Crit results before Hit results.

  • Ranking– 5
  • Combos
    • Ten Numb (B-Wing)
      • Ten Numb allows one of your critical results to ignore your opponents defense results. That’s one guaranteed damage if you can roll a crit. If he uses autoblaster then he can just ignore defense dice with almost any results.
    • Fearlessness (EPT)
      • Fearlessness adds a free Hit result if you are range 1 in your targets arc (and they are in your arc). Since Autoblaster only works at range one anyways, Fearlessness gives it a free unblockable hit. Too bad the Protectorate starfighter doesn’t have a cannon slot.
    • IG-88 (Any Pilot)
      • I only included this one because of a pun. Any of the IG’s equipped with Autoblaster and Autothrusters can be called an Autobot which just amuses me. Plus it isn’t actually too bad on Aggressors because they have a native boost, giving them an edge at getting into range 1.
    • Accuracy Corrector (System)
      • This upgrade turns the results of your attack into two Hits. Since hits are unavoidable that means two guaranteed damage even if you rolled three blanks.
  • Notes
    • This card is a classic case of being balanced to death. Unavoidable damage is really powerful. So it naturally needs a lot of restrictions. Five points is a lot to pay. Range 1 is a pretty limited area of effect. Especially since it means you’re giving up an extra die from your primary shot if you’re flying a B-Wing or Aggressor (ironically the two ships that the card comes with).

Flechette Cannon (M3-A Interceptor Expansions)

Cost: 2 points

Attack: 3, Range 1-3

If this attack hits, the defender suffers 1 damage and, if the defender is not stressed, it also receives 1 stress token. Then cancel all dice results.

  • Ranking– 6
  • Combos
    • TIE/D (Defender Title)
      • Because you still get your primary attack it is not a very big downside that this cannon can only do one damage. Adding some control in the form of stress delivery is an added bonus.
  • Notes
    • This cannon is fairly pointless. Sure, it’s cheap at two points. And giving out stress is always nice. But it’s the dual restriction of doing only 1 damage AND only giving a stress if the target is not stressed that kills it. Since the secondary effect, stress, is so conditional, the limit of one damage is too restrictive. If it stopped adding stress at two stress that would be worth taking.
    • Before Tractor Beam and the new damage deck it was worth considering throwing onto IG-88B in case you got the crit that forced you to discard a secondary weapon.  Not used it since.
    • Only real value is a cheap add on for a long range weapon to negate range 3 bonus dice with added potential control.

Heavy Laser Cannon (Lambda Shuttle/Hound’s Tooth/YT-2400/Slave-1 Expansions)

Cost: 7 points

Attack: 4, Range 2-3

Immediately after rolling your attack dice, you must change all of your Crit results to Hit results.

  • Ranking– 1
  • Combos
    • Outrider (YT-2400 Title)
      • Gives YT-2400 a four dice turret with the downside of a range 1 “donut” hole.
    • IG-88B
      • With his built in gunner ability with cannons, IG loves taking a cannon. And there’s no better cannon for dishing out damage than a HLC.
  • Notes
    • At seven points this is one of the most expensive upgrades. It was the most expensive until Palpatine and then Punishing One came along.
    • This is a well balanced weapon. It’s a powerful four dice attack with reasonable limitations (cost, no initial crits, no range 1).

Ion Cannon (B-Wing/M3-A/Slave-1/TIE Defender Expansions)

Cost: 3 points

Attack: 3, Range 1-3

If this attack hits, the defender suffers 1 damage and receives 1 ion token. Then cancel all dice results.

  • Ranking– 3
  • Combos
    • TIE/D
      • Great control option for the TIE Defender without sacrificing damage. With the white 4-k they can easily exploit the ion effect to remain behind until the target is dead.
    • Tactician/B-Wing E2
      • A B-wing with a Tactician onboard and an Ion Cannon can exert some great control if they catch their target at range 2.
  • Note
    • This is a pretty good weapon. It’s cheap enough at only three points which means it’s worth using as a long range weapon and ion is a powerful control effect.
    • Not ranked higher primarily because Tractor Beam, at 1pt, is a good filler control weapon.

Mangler Cannon (IG-2000/M3-A Expansions)

Cost: 4 points

Attack: 3, Range 1-3

When attacking, you may change 1 of your Hit results to a Crit result.

  • Ranking– 4
  • Combos
    • Outrider (YT-2400 Title)
      • This can give a YT-2400 a three dice attack at any range, closing the HLC donut hole.  And for a total of 9pts (Punishing One is 12pts for similar effect).
    • Heavy Scyk
      • Makes the Scyk a three dice attack ship.
    • Ten Numb (B-Wing pilot)
      • Ten can make a crit unblockable. Mangler gives you an almost guaranteed crit (you could still roll all blanks). Perfect synergy.
    • Bossk (YV-666 Pilot)
      • Bossk can turn a crit result into two damage, assuming the hit lands in the first place. So he always wants crits to show up.
  • Note
    • This weapon trades the fourth die that HLC has for no three points, range 1 ability, and extra crit potential.

Tractor Beam (Imperial Veterans/Mist Hunter Expansions)

Cost: 1 points

Attack: 3, Range 1-3

If this attack hits, the defender receives 1 tractor beam token. Then cancel all dice results.

  • Ranking– 2
  • Combos
    • Mist Hunter (Title)
      • This is an obvious pairing since you are required to equipped this if you take the title. It’s a good one though as you gain barrel roll and a tractor beam all for 1pt.
    • Colonel Vessery (TIE Defender)
      • Vessery with the TIE/D title is a good choice for this cannon. He’s high enough pilot skill so that other ships can likely benefit from the agility reduction. He can also benefit on his primary weapon attack and still be accurate if someone else has a target lock he can take advantage of.
  • Note
    • This is a good add on for any ship with a cannon slot that you are not planning to use for anything else. At one point it is easy to afford.
    • Just having it serves as a good control effect because your opponent will need to be leery of flying too close to asteroids or positions near the edge of the board (while you can’t barrel roll/boost them off the board you can position them so there is no escape on their next move).
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Wayne Basta

Wayne Basta

Editor-in-Chief at d20 Radio
Wayne is the managing editor of d20 Radio's Gaming Blog. He also occasionally writes books.
Wayne Basta

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